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8/7/2019 - Town of Fairfield Selected to Receive Floating Beach Wheelchair

First Selectman Mike Tetreau is very pleased to announce that SMILE Mass (Small Miracles in Life Exist) has donated a floating beach wheelchair to the Town of Fairfield. The floating beach wheelchair will be used at Lake Mohegan which has a fully accessible concrete walkway to the waterline. The Town has a similar type of chair, a terrain-only beach wheelchair, at both Penfield and Jennings beaches.

First Selectman Tetreau said, “My heartfelt thanks to SMILE Mass for selecting our Town to receive this chair. I also want to thank Parks and Recreation Department Director Anthony Calabrese for being proactive in contacting this wonderful group of volunteers committed to helping adults with disabilities and families raising children enjoy happy, healthy memories through vacation and recreation experiences.”

First Selectman Tetreau continued, “Along with upgrades the Town has already made to our public spaces at Jennings Beach, Penfield Beach, the fishing pier at Jennings Beach, South Benson Marina, Sasco Beach, Ye Yacht Yard and Southport Beach, many of which were made possible through state and federal grants, the floating beach wheelchair will be a wonderful addition at Lake Mohegan. It is part of an ongoing plan to improve Fairfield’s recreational facilities for everyone, including our seniors and people with disabilities.”

SMILE Mass has donated over 130 floating beach wheelchairs throughout New England. In addition to the Town of Fairfield, SMILE Mass also donated a floating beach wheelchair to the Town of Westport and the City of Norwalk; they are the first three communities in Connecticut to receive a floatable wheelchair. The floatable wheelchairs, which resemble beach recliners, have shock-absorbing wheels that maneuver easily over sandy terrain.

“Nothing makes us happier than creating recreational opportunities for disabled children, adults and their families,” says SMILE Mass Co-Founder and President Lotte Diomede. “These chairs allow wheelchair-bound children to float comfortably in water, perhaps for the first time. They also make it possible for non-ambulatory adults to access and enjoy the beach, which is otherwise nearly impossible.”

Founded in 2010 by Sudbury, MA residents Lotte Diomede and Susan Brown, SMILE Mass is dedicated to improving the lives of disabled persons and the people around them. Creating recreational outings without barriers is one of the organization’s prime objectives.

“For families with disabled members, vacations can be complicated, expensive, and frustrating,” says Susan Brown, SMILE Mass Co-Founder and Vice- President. “We want to change that. Disabilities and caregiving can be very stressful, and it’s important for all families to take pleasant, relaxing breaks together from time to time.”

In addition to offering easy transport over sand, the beach wheelchairs provide the potential for therapeutic movement in the water. Exercising in a buoyant environment is considered important by those in the rehabilitation profession and pool therapy programs have become standard. Since salt water is more buoyant than fresh water or pool water, individuals who use the beach wheelchairs in the ocean are likely to find more movement possible.

The donation ceremony which took place yesterday at Compo Beach in Westport was hosted by SMILE Mass. The photo, taken by First Selectman's Office intern Chris Walsh, shows, l:r, Fairfield Parks and Recreation Department Recreation Coordinator Chelsea Seres, SMILE Mass Co-Founder and President Lotte Diomede, Norwalk Aquatic Director Pam Raila, Norwalk Director of Recreation and Parks Nick Roberts, SMILE Mass Co-Founder and Vice-President Susan Brown, First Selectman Mike Tetreau, Westport First Selectman Jim Marpe and Westport Parks and Recreation Director Jen Fava.

About SMILE Mass
SMILE Mass is a 501(c)(3) non-profit organization dedicated to improving the lives of disabled persons, their families, and other caregivers. The organization welcomes donations from individuals, businesses, and other entities. For more information, please visit www.SMILEMass.org.

For information or questions, please contact Lotte Diomede, President and Co-Founder of SMILE Mass, at 617-967-7755 and info@smilemass.org or Fairfield Parks and Recreation Director Anthony Calabrese at 203-256-3191 and acalabrese@fairfieldct.org.